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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 09/10/2008

The Riff: Take This Quiz and Become a Famous Cartoonist!

By Michael Cavna

Every now and again, an aspiring artist accosts us with a portfolio the size of a small watercraft and asks: "Do I have what it takes to make it as a professional cartoonist?" To which we reply: "Absolutely not." Quickly followed by: "No, we don't need to actually see your comic strips to decide this."

See, we know instinctively that one of two scenarios would unfold:
a. Either your strips would warrant some harsh criticism; or
b. Your strips would show such great promise that to compliment you would be to encourage our future competition -- and really, it takes a mighty big (i.e., foolish) person to do that, no?

In an altruistic moment, though, we have decided to offer a handy-dandy test for eager cartoonists. Take the Comic Riffs Quiz for Aspiring Cartoonists, and appreciate these eight queries for the flawed gems they are:

1. Are you a fair artist? Then--haha--you have absolutely no future in cartooning. Most every successful cartoonist is either wildly talented with a pen or draws like a pit bull trying to apply lipstick. If you wish to succeed, you must either improve your artwork greatly, or devote your every waking hour to getting rotten.
[If you are a decent artist, subtract 5 POINTS.]

2. Does your first name have that ring of privilege and elitism? If so, then sorry, but you must acquire a new name. You can't swing Garfield over your head without hitting a friendly-sounding "Jim," "Mike," "Bill," "Lynn" or "Dave" on the comics page. Readers are comfortable with this. If your name be Worthington or Chauncey, then we hereby dub you "Chuck."
[If your name is friendly-sounding, add 5 POINTS. If monosyllabic, 10 POINTS.]

3. Would you characterize your ego as "healthy," "raging" or "bordering on clinical disorder"?
[If you said "healthy," subtract 10 POINTS.]

4. If you have animals, do they talk amusingly to humans?
[If you said "yes" and meant your cartoon animals, add 5 POINTS. If you said "yes" and meant real-life animals, then please call Johns Hopkins; they have a special jacket in your size.]

5. Are you a can-do optimist who's trying to create an "edgy" and snark-happy strip?
[If yes: subtract 20 POINTS.]

6. Are you an unremitting pessimist trying to create a feel-good family strip?
[If yes: You have our sympathy; you are more warped than even we are.]

7. Are you willing to sleep your way to the middle?
[No score; we're just, um, curious.]

8. Do you happen to personally know cartoonists Bill Watterson, Bill Amend, Bill Griffith, Bill Hinds, Bill Holbrook or Bil Keane? And would they be willing to write the foreword to your first book?
[If yes: Add 100 POINTS.]


Fewer than zero points: Sorry -- but have you considered a career in comics blogging instead?
0-50 points: You have a far healthier lifestyle than cartooning before you; get out while you can.
More than 50 points: Congratulations on your wildly popular comic! Just remember: We discovered you first.

By Michael Cavna  | September 10, 2008; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Riffs  
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1 - I can't draw a straight line with a ruler. Once, I did a dot-to-dot of Queen Elizabeth, so I can draw a ruler with a straight line.

2 - How about if all I have is a letter and a number?

3 - Do I get extra points for "bordering on a clinical disorder" if I'm not sure which side of the border I'm on?

4 - Johns Hopkins said, "not you again. Do you want the same room?"

7 - Are you offering?

8 - I'm willing to forge an foreword. Clearly, if I get one, it'd be worth six Bills. Maybe I can write it and say it's from "Bill Amand" or "Bill Grifffith". Or maybe I can get Bill Clinton. Nah. He's not a cartoonist, he's a caricature.

Posted by: f2 | September 10, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

One thing I have learned from being a fan of professional soccer, who has had an opportunity to don his cleats and take the field: the world needs more fans than players.

The same applies to cartooning. Somebody has to read the dam things while dribbling coffee....

I'm your man.

Posted by: JkR | September 10, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

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